Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) US President Donald Trump is facing growing condemnation from the sports world after his criticism of players.
On Friday, Trump said the National Football League (NFL) should fire players who protest during the US anthem, BBC reported on Saturday.
High-profile football players as well as basketball star LeBron James openly criticised Trump in response.
One NFL team owner said Trump’s comments were “offensive”.
At a rally on Friday night, Trump said NFL players who protested during the playing of the national anthem should be fired by their team — referencing a controversial string of protests over race relations started by player Colin Kaepernick last year.
On Saturday, he withdrew an invitation to the White House from basketball champions the Golden State Warriors after one player, Steph Curry, said he did not want to attend.
Curry said he wanted to show that he and other players did not stand for “the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times”.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted afterwards. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
In response, triple NBA champion LeBron James, one of the sport’s foremost stars, labelled the President a “bum”.
“Going to White House was an honour until you showed up,” he said.
Retired star Kobe Bryant said Trump was a president “whose name alone creates division and anger” and could not possibly achieve his campaign slogan to “make America great again”.
Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers – the former team of Colin Kaepernick – said he would continue to support his players’ “pursuit of positive change”.
“The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for,” he said in a statement.
“Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice.”
The NFL Players’ Association, meanwhile, issued its own statement saying that “the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play’.”
Association president Eric Winston said the president’s comments were “a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present” and those who spilled blood to uphold American values.
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